Mom pursuing charges after son with severe disabilities cyberbullied at Campbell High

A photo of her freshman son using a urinal was posted on social media by a senior.
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 9:44 PM HST|Updated: May. 5, 2023 at 5:01 AM HST
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EWA BEACH (HawaiiNewsNow) - Melissa Harper-Osai’s has a son with several disabilities who is a freshman at James Campbell High School.

She’s angered and upset after her son was photographed by a senior in one of the school’s restrooms — and the photo was posted online.

“A student found it interesting, humorous — whatever, in my opinion — because his pants were all the way down to his ankles while he was using the urinal, and decided at that moment in time to take a picture of him,” she said.

“And then post it on social media.” That was on April 17.

Harper-Osai was informed about the post from a vice principal the next day. She then expressed her anger and frustration on her own Facebook page.

She explained that her son has multiple disabilities: “He was born with a genetic anomaly. He also has autism. He’s pretty much non-verbal.”

Harper-Osai added he’s supposed to use a restroom that’s reserved for students with disabilities while escorted by a one-on-one support aide.

“The teacher was in the classroom and he walked into the Gen-Ed (General Education) bathroom, and his one-on-one support did not follow him to make sure he was okay and stood outside the bathroom,” she said.

Harper-Osai filed a police report and intends to press charges against the senior who took and posted the photo on his social media, but visible only to his friends.

She said an HPD detective later showed her the post, but wouldn’t let her make a copy.

The Department of Education said Campbell High School investigated the incident and took what it called “appropriate action.” However, it couldn’t say more because of privacy laws.

“He went back to the class three days after he was suspended and is unable to walk across the stage for graduation,” Harper-Osai said. “But that’s all the consequences that has happened.”

“It’s not unique. It happens to kids all the time. They just don’t have a voice to talk about it,” said Rosie Rowe, the executive director of Leadership in Disabilities and Achievement in Hawaii (LDAH), a group that works with and supports the parents of children with disabilities.

Rowe said bullying is a widespread problem for students, but isn’t talked about.

“Whether they have a disability, and even the kids who don’t have a disability aren’t talking about it,” Rowe explained.

LDAH is holding a forum against bullying for parents on Saturday, May 13 at the Kukui Center in Honolulu.